Women to Watch: 2007Posted On: Apr. 7, 2009 10:23 AM CST
Senior Director-Risk Management
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Julie K. Long joined Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in December 2004 as senior director-risk management. At Wal-Mart, she is responsible for achieving strategic objectives in managing loss exposure risks, including directing placement of property and liability insurance programs for all of Wal-Mart's domestic and international operations as well as the retailer's captive insurance company, Broadstreet Insurance Co. Before joining Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart, she was with SBC Communications--now AT&T Inc.--as executive director, risk management. She holds both the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter and Associate in Risk Management professional designations and is a past president of the St. Louis chapters of the Risk & Insurance Management Information Society Inc., Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society and the Assn. of Professional Insurance Women.
Advice to young women: "Embrace the thought of becoming a 'perpetual student' of the world, the industry, your company and your aspirations. The field of insurance, brokerage and/or risk management should be considered as a career opportunity...not just an occupation and is not about what most people think--'you just buy or place insurance.' You are a knowledge worker in a multidisciplinary field--involving contracts; finance; accounting; tax; tort; compliance with federal, state and non-U.S financial responsibility laws; claims--that touches all aspects of a company, from non-management persons to the office of the chairman and all operations in between. The challenges are as dynamic as the company and the external factors impacting the company. The responsibilities are much broader than placing insurance and managing an insurance transaction, although the use of insurance is an important risk financing tool, but only one of several options. You will have the opportunity to work in a global marketplace."
Professional role model: "I have had several role models during my professional career, both male and female. The first, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was Lois Weber, who was the customer service representative coordinating the placement and services for several large construction accounts for a regional broker in St. Louis. Lois did not have a college education, but held a responsible position servicing these accounts and went on to obtain the CPCU designation. Her achievement and encouragement inspired me to begin a serious pursuit of my formal education and professional designations. I joined Southwestern Bell in 1985, one of the...'Baby Bells' created after the break-up of 'Ma Bell.' During the period before the telecommunications industry began to consolidate again, I had the opportunity to network with many experienced risk managers hired by the Baby Bells. The peer network was very strong and, for a period in the early 1990s, the directors of risk management for the seven Baby Bells were all women. We all had great fun with that fact. Last, but certainly not least, my husband, my best friend and my mentor, A. Hunter Long. Hunter began his insurance-based career in the 1960s and was an early contributor and advocate of RIMS and risk management as a profession. His success and the lasting friendships he made during his career were additionally motivating to me."
Best professional advice: "There is not a single incidence of professional advice that stands out in my recollections. What I do recall is having a personal desire to achieve that was strongly supported and encouraged by family, friends, co-workers and teachers combined with the good fortune of having worked for companies that also strongly supported and encouraged continuing education, professional development and professional development by peer networking and professional affiliations."
Chief Underwriting Officer, Commercial Lines
Westfield Insurance Co.
Westfield Center, Ohio
Heidi Mack has been a woman on the rise in 21 years with Westfield Insurance Co. She has held various roles in the Westfield Center, Ohio-based organization in underwriting, marketing, product management and information technology, gaining higher leadership roles within the company. Earlier this year, Ms. Mack was promoted to chief underwriting officer of commercial lines to lead a staff of 300 people providing service for small- and middle-market commercial accounts, agribusiness and specialty lines. In May, Ms. Mack received the YWCA Women of Professional Excellence Award in Cleveland for her professionalism and commitment to helping other women achieve.
Early aspirations: "When I was little I thought I wanted to be a jockey because I loved horses. As I got older and taller and, more importantly, wiser, I knew I wanted a job that would make a difference and where I could use my love of solving problems. I stumbled on Westfield Insurance during that time when a lot of
us decided to work for a few years, save some money and go back to school. It is now 21 years later with Westfield and I feel as though I have had many careers. It has been an ongoing, post-graduate development program."
Best professional advice: "Make career choices based on the experience, not the job title. A great career isn't where you end up, but how you got there."
Advice to young women: "The great thing about our industry is the variety of opportunities from actuarial sciences, information technology, risk management, underwriting, claims management, sales and service to leadership and strategy, and from international business to local, relationship-based sales. My advice would be to investigate all angles of our business as the long-term opportunities for personal and professional growth are almost endless."
Managing Director and Principal
Named earlier this year as the first managing director of one of Michigan's largest employee group benefits brokerage and consulting firms, Rebecca A. McLaughlan has more than 20 years of industry experience in developing, evaluating and implementing group benefit programs for midsize public and private organizations. As one of her responsibilities, Ms. McLaughlan oversees McGraw Wentworth's Southeast Michigan Mid-Market Group Benefits Survey. Launched in 2004, the annual survey benchmarks local benefit plans, issues and emerging trends unique to the region. Under her watch, the survey has grown to include more than 450 local employers.
Best professional advice: "Quite some time ago, someone told me if you do what you love doing, you will be successful. I have found this to ring true with my own professional development and success. I have also found it to be an important fact to remember when recruiting new people and/or moving people to new assignments."
Professional role model: "While I have had a number of role models over the years, I would have to select Tom McGraw, the president of McGraw Wentworth, as the individual who has been my strongest role model. More than anyone, Tom has built the culture at McGraw Wentworth through demonstration of his own personal integrity and ability to bring out the best in people."
Early aspirations: "I always saw myself working in the financial side of business, with a bank or other financial institution. Today, I find myself using those financial skills in a dynamic industry that I truly enjoy."
Vp of Market Strategy and Development
Medco Health Solutions Inc.
Franklin Lakes, N.J.
Pamela Miller's background is a blend of business, law and philanthropy. Trained as a lawyer, she served as deputy commissioner of health for the City of New York in the David Dinkins administration in the early 1990s. She also was director of environmental and public health for Hudson County, N.J. Prior to joining Medco Health Solutions Inc. in 2003, Ms. Miller worked more than a decade as a vp at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. She currently serves on the boards of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute and is president of the Garden State Bar Assn.
Best professional advice: "You should never consider yourself a finished product. To keep learning and to keep self-improving and improving the work and the company you're leading. Absolutely embrace diversity in all of its senses--diverse opinions, diverse experience and backgrounds. Diversity is a strengthener, and that could not be more true in this global economy we find ourselves in."
Professional role model: "A role model that I've actually met in passing once was Ann Fudge. Ann ran a huge piece of Kraft (Foods Inc.) and was the first African-American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company (Young & Rubicam Brands). From afar, that is someone I watch closely and who I have enormous respect for."
Advice to young women: "Get as much experience as you can in leading and being part of teams. Take every assignment as an opportunity to learn something new and to meet someone who will become important in your career as you go forward. Ask for assignments that give you experience across the organization or say yes to assignments that take you out of your comfort zone. If it's finance, go ahead and do something in process redesign. Those well-rounded executives are going to be more valuable to an organization than executives that have more narrow portfolios."
Chief Markets Officer
Mercer Human Resource Consulting L.L.C.
As New York-based chief markets officer for Mercer Human Resource Consulting L.L.C., Patricia Milligan is responsible for global client management, sales and marketing, and innovation and product development. Before joining Mercer two years ago, Ms. Milligan was head of worldwide markets for Mellon Financial Corp.'s HR consulting and services unit. She also served as managing director of strategic planning, sales and marketing for Towers Perrin. In her 25 years of HR consulting and outsourcing, Ms. Milligan also has developed flexible benefits and rewards programs.
Early aspirations: "I always loved to solve complex problems, puzzles--I thought of being an architect but would miss the people side. So consulting was a natural fit for me--new, interesting organizations, changing work and complex problems."
Best professional advice: "Be willing to take risk, to put yourself in new roles and new situations that make you uncomfortable. Move forward and stretch, even if it makes you uncomfortable."
Advice to young women: "Learn about the business from the outside in. Get involved with a broad group of clients and colleagues and keep broadening your skills and areas of focus."
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